Medical Research Hit by 60 Frauds

Article excerpt

MORE THAN 60 cases of scientific fraud have been detected in the past two years - putting patients at risk and under- mining public confidence in research, doctors reported yesterday.

The cases were found among research papers submitted to a dozen medical journals whose editors have joined a group committed to uncovering fraud. There are 200 medical journals published in Britain and the fraudulent papers detected are likely to be only a fraction of the total.

The editors of the British Medical Journal and The Lancet called for a national body to be established with powers to investigate fraud and impose sanctions against the perpetrators, on the lines of those that already exist in America and Scandinavia. They were backed by Michael Farthing, chairman of the Committee on Publication Ethics (Cope), which published the first guidelines aimed at preventing scientific research misconduct. The guidelines cover the conduct of research, its publication and relations with the media.

Dr Farthing, editor of the journal Gut, said no one knew the extent of scientific fraud but it appeared to be increasing. "The whole basis of science is that it has to be based on trust," he said. "At a meeting, attended by 70 editors, on fraud, our sense was that their experience was similar to ours." Cases cited in the 1999 Cope report, published yesterday, include examples of unethical treatment, failure to obtain consent and results being fabricated. …